online-reviews-blog-postMy friends and I like to try out new brunch places on most weekends, but over time word-of-mouth recommendations dry up and we have to turn to the internet for recommendations. Review sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon pop up with reviews – good and bad – and increasingly unreliable.

Apparently, this is due in part to “Astroturfing,” a deceptive practice where fake online reviews are generated by unscrupulous companies. These companies use their own employees to write and post reviews and hire freelance writers from far away countries for $1 to $10 per review. Even law firms post fake reviews.

So, with fake reviews on Yelp at 20 percent (up from 5 percent in 2006), increasingly unreliable Amazon reviews, Google Local, and other review sites, what’s a prospective buyer of products and services to do? Look for blog posts authored by people with first-hand experience or expertise.

Take our quick poll (choose all that apply):

 

You can find top blogs discussing just about anything you’re looking for. Need a lawyer? Check out the ABA Journal Blawg directory. Looking for Apple products? Peruse iPhone J.D. and MacSparky’s blogs. Or, just google your topic and choose “blogs” from Google’s pull-down menu.

Of course, like everything on the internet, blogs can be gamed, but if you’re willing to do your due diligence, like checking the author’s social media credentials, the bad ones can be easily identified and weeded out.

Review sites are a good place to start when shopping for products and services online (testimonials are also useful but can be gamed), but after compiling a list, check for blog posts to narrow your choices.

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